Latest Social Media Trends: 5 mega trends to guide your strategy

by | 16 May, 2018 | Marketing, Strategy

Skip the cliché about social media being important. It's ever-present, growing and evolving. These 5 social media trends will dominate your strategy.

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5 mega social media trends

Let’s skip the cliché about social media being important. It’s ever-present, growing and evolving.

In 2016, the number of global social media users reached 2.34 billion. Facebook continues to dominate. In Australia, 61% of the total population is active on Facebook.

Other top 10 performers include: YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, LinkedIn, WhatsApp and Twitter.

There has been increasing pressure on social media to accept its role as a publishing platform. Fake news has reared its ugly head. Leading to action by Google and Facebook to limit their advertising services. But the issue has not been solved and will provide a backdrop for social media marketing in the near future.

1. Social Advertising

Over the past 2 years, Social media advertising budgets worldwide have doubled. From $US 32 billion in 2016, ad spending is expected to increase by a further 26.3%.

So why is social advertising so popular?

  • Organic reach is a fraction of what is used to be – for Facebook it is just 6%.
  • It is seen as a low cost option relative to search and display ads.
  • Advanced targeting allows a higher chance of relevance to your users.
  • Most social media platforms offer conversion tracking to your website.

The jury is still out on the ROI of social advertising. 61% of B2C marketers have found promoted posts to be effective. Whereas only 48% of B2B marketers see a return on their investment.

Sobering statistics that social advertising is not an easy win. But when you consider the minuscule organic reach, social advertising is a must for small business to get heard.

2. Platform Consolidation

For so long, SM platforms have been appearing one after another in particular niches. Each one with a specific angle and function.

However, the differences between the biggest platforms are starting to blend.

In addition to the cloning of features, the industry is moving to a phase where there will be fewer but more powerful players. For example of the top 10 platforms:

  • Facebook owns WhatsApp and Instagram.
  • Microsoft owns LinkedIn.
  • Google owns YouTube.
  • Yahoo owns Tumblr.

It is expected the cloning of features between platforms and continued acquisition of smaller players will continue. The question is, will we see a super platform any time soon?

3. Video Domination

Social video took a meteoric rise in 2016 and it has only continued since then. Just a few stats to summarise its dominance (source: Hubspot):

  • YouTube reports video consumption increases 100% every year.
  • 87% of online marketers use video.
  • Video ads increase purchasing intent by 97% and brand association by 139%.

Live videos have provided a new way for telling stories, with brands trying:

  • Special announcements
  • Product introductions
  • Live events
  • Behind-the-scenes and backstage coverage
  • Interviews and influencer outreach

General Motors became the first auto brand to live stream on Facebook when it came out with the Chevy Volt EV. But live content has some way to go before it delivers an ROI. Why? Because it is just plain boring and relatively expensive.

There is no contest, video rocks. Brands will continue to innovate with video to gain and retain attention. Live video will get plenty of trials, but it has some way to go before it delivers an ROI.

4. Chatbots and Real-Time Service

Response time is an important metric for businesses. Customer expectation is nearing real time response as the norm. There is an often cited study by Lithium Technologies that 53% of Twitter users expect a response back within an hour.

That study dates back to 2013 – when social media was just grappling with advertising on mobile. So you can imagine if that study was done now, the stat is going to be way higher.

Given that businesses market hard on social media, it only makes sense that customer service leverages the platform’s advantages. Brandwatch go as far to say that social media customer service is not an option anymore.

Chatbots provide a real time customer service solution on social media. A chatbot is a computer program designed to simulate conversation with a human user – e.g. Siri.

Chatbots are capable of answering many of the queries placed by customers. This enables a real time, 24×7 customer service without the overhead.

In April 2016, Mark Zuckerberg announced that third parties could use the Messenger platform to create their own chatbot. This has served to propel the use of social media by businesses for customer service. This trend will continue to progress.

5. Social Messaging

This one is obvious after reading all the other trends and seeing the performance of Snapchat and WhatApp. Social messaging provides the platform to deliver that desired personalisation – a major digital marketing trend.

The biggest social messaging apps now have a larger community than many of the other social networks. WhatsApp has over 1 billion users.

Social messaging will continue to improve its feature set and businesses will leverage it more to reach the unique inbox of the targeted user.

Conclusion

Here are the five of the latest social media trends:

  1. Social Advertising
  2. Platform Consolidation
  3. Video Domination
  4. Chatbots and Real-Time Service
  5. Social Messaging